It seems a long time since I’ve been able to write in this blog, having just finished my own studies and then taken time to slog through the recruitment season. This does n’t mean that I’ve stopped reading though! One of the excellent blogs that is out there is John Tomsett’s, who is a Headteacher in York. I was pouring through his blogs this weekend in an attempt to catch up on things that I had missed out on, when I came across the links to the Education Endowment Foundation here;
The EEF is an organisation that seeks to improve the performance of children in schools. They particularly examine research in order to promote strategies that can be used by staff to promote improved learning and teaching. As a basis, they have used Hattie’s meta-analysis within the book “Visible Learning”. I must admit that there seems to be a groundswell of opinion that treats Hattie’s work as a bible for educationalists. I’m not sure I agree so blindly (even though his book sits behind me in my office while I type this post). There are a number of questions over Hattie’s manipulation of statistics and in particular his calculation of effect size, which has been argued in the links below;
One of his critics is Professor Rob Coe, based out of the University of Durham, and author of many excellent blogs, which can be explored here;
Rob Coe, and others, particularly question Hattie’s use of statistics, and claim that his work has not been subjected to enough critique by the research community. I tend to agree, but personally believe that many of Hattie’s observations are simply what teachers already knew, and that his work outlines what excellent teachers focus on doing. These observations are used by the EEF to construct a one-stop toolkit. One of the stand out pages is the following, which examines the positive impact that some strategies have upon student progress.
I find this information really useful and am already thinking about how I can use this to help the school develop. I’m really convinced that SIS needs to place research at the forefront of what we do. It helps to develop teachers, creates a great CPD experience and promotes a continuous effort to improve. It’s absolutely vital. Looking at the EEF toolkit, it’s possible to identify strategies that can be explored here. Using an effect size of +5 or greater, the key areas seem to be;
• Collaborative Learning
• Early Years Intervention
• Secondary Homework
• Mastery Learning
• Meta-cognition and Self-regulation
• One to one tuition
• Oral Language interventions
• Peer tutoring and
• Reading comprehension strategies.
These areas, I’m beginning to think, may be a useful starting point in encouraging staff to research in groups, in order to see how we as a school can improve our results, particularly in areas that we have n’t really delved into. Readers of the school blog will know that we already use mastery planning and effective feedback, but areas such as collaborative learning have largely gone untouched. So perhaps our teachers can find out about them, evidence case studies and make recommendations? In this way, we can further enrich our already very good CPD programme, and really focus upon outcomes. The research conducted can also form part of a teacher’s appraisal. Let’s take the collaborative learning example, small groups of teachers could try and work on the following;
What is collaborative learning?
Wider research and reading.
Discussion in group.
Case study review.
Ideas for adoption.
Presentation to wider staff and discussion
Trial and observation/discussion (as a part of lesson study)
Final presentation and policy adoption
Monitoring and feedback
I think such a cycle would really enrich teacher development and promote improved student outcomes, but the problem that we face here, as a mixed-culture staff team, is that the constant cycle of recruitment means that teachers all enter the school at different professional starting points. Essentially, they all have different experiences and abilities, strengths and weaknesses. A one stop CPD strategy will be beyond some, but old hat for others. So how can we manage this multi-paced requirement?
Well, using evidence such as the EFF above and our own experience we could create a ‘core’ of CPD which we expect as a baseline for all existing and incoming staff. For us at the school, this means Afl, Mastery planning and modelling. Once a certain level of competency has been achieved, through CPD learning communities, lesson study and appraisal, staff could move on to the additional units, which are chosen voluntarily. Initially, these units of study are exploratory but over time, and with increased excellence, long standing members of staff (particularly those local teachers who tend to remain in post for longer) can themselves becoming mentors to new staff (this would be the ideal in promoting increased self-efficacy in local staff). I outline below a diagram that begins to reflect my thoughts….
These units are, of course, completely interchangeable and will need adapting in time, perhaps moving onto other units that are under the +5 threshold in Hattie and the EEF toolkit. It will also need to distribute leadership and create a number of leading staff who can drive research and learning forwards, whilst also acting as mentors for other teachers. These should not just be foreign staff either, but local teachers who will remain in situ for many, many years, and who shall carry the philosophies of the school forwards after our more mobile overseas staff have long gone.
The above will, of course, require a lot of thought, fleshing out and planning. I’m lucky here to have some very good staff who will find this interesting. The trick will be, trying to get staff to lead this on their own, buy into it, and take ownership.